Barker, Dr. Eileen – NEW RELIGIOUS MOVEMENTS – A PRACTICAL INTRODUCTION. 1989 Her Majesty’s Stationary Office (HMSO)
Following her The Making Of A Moonie book (also reviewed by me), Barker embarked on causing further controversy. The title comes from Barker’s reluctance to use the derogatory expression ‘cults’, though New Religious Movements (NRM’s) are often quite old movements, in a new presentation or for a new audience. Barker tries to redefine what a new religion is, but in many ways she only succeeds in clouding the definition further. The book is in many ways the handbook of the now defunct INFORM Government Home Office sponsored cult Monitoring apologist group. Though claiming to be a basic introduction to cults for newcomers to the debate, much of the book assumes some previous reading. It is largely Eileen Barker’s partisan response to the many fierce criticisms from angered cult monitors following the publication of her earlier study. NRM’s can only serve to make its readers even more livid. A section denouncing deprogramming by giving the testimonies of five supposedly anonymous participants in the practice is flawed in just about every respect. All of the victims of the practice are just that, victims, who have each returned to the cults from which they were snatched. It would be easy to find people who are happy to have been deprogrammed too, but Barker leaves that to other researchers, and the reader having to look elsewhere for such findings. Secondly, of the five cases she studies, three were deprogrammed by the same persona, identified only by a pseudonym. Barker does not specify whether all five deprogrammings involve people kidnapped from one and the same cult either. The summary pages in the appendix, (almost half of the book) on the basic beliefs of a wide range of cults are well presented however.
© Copyright. Arthur Chappell
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